Samuelsson scores 2, Osgood stops 19 in Wings win
DETROIT – It’s no surprise the Detroit Red Wings have a Swede to thank for a prime-time performance, but Mikael Samuelsson?The demoted forward busted out of a slump with two goals, and Chris Osgood stifled the Pittsburgh Penguins’ young and talented stable of forwards with 19 saves to lift the Red Wings to a 4-0 victory in the opening game of the Stanley Cup finals on Saturday night.Samuelsson doubled his playoff goal total with two in the biggest game of his five-season NHL career. He had been dropped to Detroit’s third line earlier in the playoffs and had posted only two assists since his two-goal outburst on May 1.”I just live in the moment,” said Samuelsson, who scored two goals in 22 games during the 2002-03 season with the Penguins. “We played good as a team. I’m lucky to be the one who scored a couple of goals.”Detroit overpowered goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with a 36-shot barrage. Osgood has two postseason shutouts this season and 12 in his playoff career.Game 2 is Monday night in Detroit.The Red Wings are led by a collection of seven Swedes, most notably captain Nicklas Lidstrom on defense and key forwards Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen.With Samuelsson finding his scoring touch, it didn’t matter that Franzen – tied with Zetterberg for the NHL lead with 12 postseason goals – missed his sixth straight game due to recurring headaches. He seems close to returning, and that could pose big problems for the Penguins, who fell to 12-3 in the playoffs.Pittsburgh raced out to 3-0 leads in each of the first three rounds – all started in the Steel City – and didn’t drop more than one game to any opponent. Detroit, however, kept Penguins captain Sidney Crosby in check along with the rest of Pittsburgh’s 20-somethings and under.In a series billed as a matchup between Penguins’ youth and Red Wings’ experience, Detroit claimed the first strike. The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Red Wings are 13-4 in the playoffs and three wins away from their third Stanley Cup title in 11 seasons.Samuelsson needed no help as both of his goals were unassisted. He bailed out fellow Swede Tomas Holmstrom, who was whistled for interference on Fleury that negated a goal by Lidstrom that would have been the game’s first score.Samuelsson broke the tie in the second period, picking off an errant pass on the far side of center ice and taking it all the way with 6:59 left in the first.It was Samuelsson’s first goal in seven games, dating to the series-clinching Game 4 win over Colorado.”He didn’t score here lately, but he got an assist his last game,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Sammy is kind of a streak guy. When he scores he feels good about himself.”Samuelsson netted his second 2:16 into the third when Pittsburgh’s Rob Scuderi and Evgeni Malkin took turns fumbling the puck. Samuelsson got it and was alone at the top of the crease for the goal. Dan Cleary added a short-handed goal with 2:42 left and Fleury’s rough night got worse when he was beaten by Zetterberg for a power-play goal with 12 seconds remaining.Osgood withstood a 12-shot first period from the Penguins, who generated eight shots in the frame during four fruitless power plays. At even strength, Pittsburgh managed only eight shots through two periods.Detroit clamped down in the second and held a 16-4 shots advantage during the frame and 27-16 through 40 minutes.”We just have to be a little smarter and a little more disciplined and move the puck quicker and play in their end more and we’ll be all right,” Penguins defenseman Hal Gill said.The Red Wings had already been whistled for three penalties in the entertaining first period when Holmstrom was sent to the box for a second time and wiped out Lidstrom’s goal.Lidstrom ripped a drive from Fleury’s left as Holmstrom cut across the top of the crease and smacked the goalie’s feet with his stick with 4:40 left in the first. The puck sailed into the net, drawing a huge roar from the crowd that didn’t see referee Dan O’Halloran emphatically waving off the first goal of the highly anticipated series.Babcock demanded an explanation at the bench during the ensuing commercial break and then cursed at O’Halloran once he heard it. The call was reminiscent of one against Holmstrom in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals that also cost the Red Wings a goal in a loss to Dallas.”That’s the rule, you can’t put your stick in the crease now?” Babcock said. “Did they change that when I wasn’t watching? Did he touch his pads in any way or interfere with him in any way?”They’ve got to decide. I just coach the game. I don’t get to referee it.”Osgood stopped a five-shot flurry during a first-period power play, lunged with his arm to knock the puck off the stick of Marian Hossa, and turned aside a partial breakaway by Pascal Dupuis.Osgood, who backstopped Detroit’s Stanley Cup run in 1998, is 11-2 since taking over from Dominik Hasek in the first round and has allowed only 20 goals in 14 games.Notes: Pittsburgh has been shut out in two of its three playoff losses. … Detroit leads the all-time series 60-57 with 16 ties. This is the clubs’ first postseason meeting. … The Penguins haven’t won in Detroit since Dec. 10, 2000. … Each team’s captain was whistled for rare penalties. Lidstrom went off for holding in the first period and interference in the third, giving him 14 penalty minutes in these playoffs and 64 overall in 209 career postseason games. Crosby’s slashing infraction in the second gave him 10 minutes in 15 playoff games this year.
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